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MASCAB: a Micro-Architectural Side-Channel Attack Bibliography
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danpage added+annotated MASCAB:SimChiAnd:18
added+annotated MASCAB:StePre:18
added+annotated MASCAB:Hamburg:09
added+annotated MASCAB:GeYarHei:18
added MASCAB:LyuMis:18
added MASCAB:SetMarDem:18
added MASCAB:Frigo:17
added MASCAB:SanKoz:11
added MASCAB:YGST:17
added MASCAB:CanKopRei:17
added MASCAB:Schroder:17
added MASCAB:KopBas:07
updated MASCAB:GeYarHei:16   (now MASCAB:GeYarHei:17)
updated MASCAB:GRZIHE:17
updated MASCAB:Heiser:17
updated MASCAB:GYCH:16       (now MASCAB:GYCH:18)
various typos
added license
replaced generation of taxonomy (from keywords) into for reference
started trying to include "see also" note for pre-prints etc.
Latest commit 19e3274 Sep 7, 2018

MASCAB: a Micro-Architectural Side-Channel Attack Bibliography


Cryptography is a fast-moving field, which is enormously exciting but also quite challenging: resources such as the IACR eprint archive and CryptoBib help, but even keeping track of new results in certain sub-fields can be difficult, let alone then making useful contributions. The sub-field of micro-architectural side-channel attacks is an example of this, in part as the result of it bridging multiple disciplines (e.g., cryptography and computer architecture).

I've found this particularly challenging (and so frustrating) over say the last 5 years; the volume of papers has expanded rapidly, but the time I'd normally allocate to reading them has been eroded by other commitments (as evidenced by a pile of printed papers gathering dust on my desk). In the end, I decided to tackle this problem by progressively a) collating papers I could read, then b) reading them one-by-one, but in no particular order, and attempting to summarise their contribution (and so organise the sub-field as a whole in my head). MASCAB is the result: after starting to advise MSc and PhD students on how to navigate the sub-field, it seems likely to be of use to others as well.

  • By definition this is an ongoing project; I'd welcome updates, e.g., raw BiBTeX entries or pointers to missing papers.

  • If you want to make reference to MASCAB (e.g., in the acknowledgements of a paper or report), it'd be really helpful if you'd use the following standard BiBTeX entry

      author = {D. Page},
      title  = {{MASCAB}: a {M}icro-{A}rchitectural {S}ide-{C}hannel {A}ttack {B}ibliography},
      url    = {}

    since this will maximise the cases where it's picked up by automated citation indexes.

  • Partly motivated by Meltdown and Spectre, there are now various alternative to MASCAB that you might prefer; for example here or here.


  • Although I attempted to summarise (some) papers, this is was initially intended for my use: at the moment this isn't meant to be a standalone survey, mainly because there are already good examples elsewhere, see, e.g., [1,2].

  • The content is intended to be factual and, obviously, correct; anything other than that, including any inaccuracies, are simply human error. I do get things wrong sometimes (in fact, quite often), but definitely don't mean to judge or criticise anything, for example.

  • So it is easier to manage, The content is organised into the following files:

    • mascab.bib is the main BiBTeX bibliography database,
    • mascab.tex is a LaTeX file that compiles (e.g., via the Makefile provided) the content into a readable (or at least printable) document,
    • mascab-scratchpad.bib, is a BiBTeX bibliography database of entries that aren't yet included in masca.bib but should be,
    • mascab-peripheral.bib is a BiBTeX bibliography database of entries that are at the periphery of what should be included in masca.bib but are worth hanging on to either way (e.g., because they could be included in the future, or just add context).
  • The Makefile included has one target: mascab.pdf is a PDF generated from mascab.tex. Note that up to a point, keywords and taxonomy are just an (evolving) mechanism to manage content. As example, cases such as

    • where a paper makes multiple contributions (e.g., includes both an attack strategy and a countermeasure, or an attack strategy and a concrete application of it to something), or
    • where a paper could be applied within the context of either covert or side-channels

    aren't that well served.

  • Modelled on CryptoBib, each database attempts to follow some formatting rules:

    • the format of entry keys is

      MASCAB:<author key>[:<publication year>][:a-z]


      1. a domain separator,
      2. an author key,
      3. a two-digit publication year (if dated),
      4. an optional character to resolve any conflicts, with separating colons where appropriate,
    • the format of author keys depends on the number of authors, namely

      Authors Format Example
      1 full (ASCII'ised) last name, "W.M. Hu" => Hu
      2 or 3 first 3 characters of each (ASCII'ised) last name, "O. Ac\i{}i\c{c}mez and \c{C}.K. Ko\c{c}" => AciKoc
      4 or more first 1 character of each (ASCII'ised) last name, "Y. Wang and A. Ferraiuolo and D. Zhang and A.C. Myers and E.G. Suh" => WFZMS

      although one caveat relates to named resource (e.g., software) where it makes more sense to use the resource name than the author name.


  1. J. Szefer. Survey of Microarchitectural Side and Covert Channels, Attacks, and Defences. Cryptology ePrint Archive, Report 2016/479. 2016.

  2. Q. Ge, Y. Yarom, D. Cock and G. Heiser. A Survey of Microarchitectural Timing Attacks and Countermeasures on Contemporary Hardware. Cryptology ePrint Archive, Report 2016/613. 2016.

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